Cook yourself thin with former model Candice Kumai
Kumai Trades in her Manolos for chef’s clogs – and still stays fit and fabulous (Hello! Canada)
There’s an old saying that “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” But what if you could have your cake and eat it, too? TV host Candice Kumai believes you can. The 29-year-old model-turned-chef has devoted her career to creating waistline-friendly fare that doesn’t skimp on flavour. “I want to get my message out to people, but in a really fun and playful way,” she tells Hello! Canada. “It’s not that hard to eat healthy: take processed foods out of your diet and eat the way that Grandma wanted you to eat.”
Luckily for the San Diego native, she inherited vastly different culinary tastes from her own grandmothers – and so she has lots of diverse dishes to draw on when she’s looking for culinary inspiration. The daughter of a Polish-American father (a nuclear auditor) and a Japanese mother (a language teacher), Candice was raised in a home where specialty foods like sashimi and perigees frequently appeared on the plate. “I was eating sushi in the first grade when no one else knew what it was,” Candice says with a laugh. The cultural mash-up at the family dinner table sparked a love of cooking in the California girl.
After spending her early 20s working as a fit model (designers would hire her perfect size four frame as a “live mannequin”) – and hitting the beach to surf at any opportunity – the lure of the kitchen became too great and she enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in L.A. While there, she auditioned on a whim for the then-unknown show Top Chef. Her passion for food, bubbly personality and cover-girl good looks made her a natural for the small screen, and soon after appearing on Top Chef’s first season in 2006, she traded in her surfboard for kitchen knives and moved to Manhattan.
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